The Wandering Cow of Montague Street

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Even in 1862, a cow was not a common visitor to the streets of Brooklyn Heights. The farms were long gone and townhouses lined most of the blocks.

Yet one wandered onto the property of one Michael Donley, who took out an ad titled “Found – A Cow Came To My Premises.” It appeared in the Eagle’s Lost and Found column (an informative and often amusing read).

The notice is brief, merely providing details of how to claim the wayward beast from his home on Montague Street between Hicks and Pierrepont Place. He notes the owner “can have the lost cow by proving property and paying charges.”

Perhaps he was looking for payment for feed or cow damage to his property.

Even then, Montague Street was a major spine of the neighborhood.

Many of the impressive buildings that line the street today, such as the 1880s apartment building at 105 Montague Street and the early 20th century bank at 183 Montague Street, post-date the cow’s excursion. However, she may well have stopped to admire the stained glass at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, completed in 1847.

If she had wanted to take her excursion into Manhattan, she could have leapt aboard the Wall Street Ferry which departed from the foot of Montague Street from 1853 to 1912. Although, perhaps that was a more likely trip for a bull.

Montague Street looking down towards Wall St. Ferry terminal. Sometime before 1891. Photo: Brooklyn Museum

Montague Street looking down towards Wall Street Ferry terminal sometime before 1891. Photo via Brooklyn Museum

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